Choosing the Right Camera Type

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 01, 2013

When selecting a camera, you can choose from a number of different form factors and options. Each form factor comes with its own unique strengths and weaknesses - both in terms of physical sizing and advanced features provided. In this report, we examine each form factor, providing recommendations on when to use each type.

At a high level, 5 form factor categories exist:

  • Cube
  • Bullet
  • Box
  • Dome
  • PTZ

Beyond those, 6 other fundamental options are especially important:

  • Vandal Housings
  • Day/Night functionality
  • WDR
  • for PTZs: pan range, tilt range, optical zoom

These are not the only functionalities that count. There are over 40 criteria that sophisticated users routinely consider. However, these 11 are the 'big' ones that factors in almost every camera selection decision.

Cube Cameras

Cube cameras are generally the least expensive cameras and, as such, are often deployed in residential or small business applications. A few IP cube cameras have an online price under $100 and the majority are under $250.

Here's a sample of what a cube camera looks like:

When considering cube cameras, a number of important limitations should be considered:

  • Fixed focal lenses: If you want to adjust the Field of View of a cube camera, you will have to physically move the camera to accommodate
  • Not Day/Night: It is extremely rare for them to have a mechanical cut filter, ensuring poor low light / night time quality
  • Rare IR support: Only a few cube cameras have integrated IR LEDs to enhance low light / night time imaging
  • WDR / Bright light issues: In our ongoing tests, cube cameras generally have moderate to severe problems in dealing with backlight or lighting variances
  • Lack of PoE support: Less than 25% of cube cameras have PoE support
  • Indoor only: Very few are rated for outdoor use and those are only IP54 rated against dust and water splashing
  • Short Warranties: More than 70% of cube cameras have a 1 year warranty while other form factors regularly have 2 or 3 year warranties

On the other hand, some cube cameras offer more advanced features:

  • About half have integrated wireless networking; While this usually works only over short distances, it can be helpful to eliminate network cabling. Also note that wireless support is much more common in cube cameras than any other form factor.
  • Higher Frame Rate: More than 70% of cube cameras offer 15fps or higher which is generally more than enough for most applications
  • Maximum resolution tends to be lower than other form factors.

Finally, cube cameras are generally small providing a low profile (especially compared to box cameras). However, if aesthetics and concealment are key, domes provide the best option.

We've tested a number of cube cameras. For more, read/watch our reviews on Cisco/Linksys, D-Link, Lorex, Panasonic and TrendNet cube cameras.

Pro members can read much more inside.

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** * **** *****, * **** ****** ********** *****:

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  • ******
  • ***
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  • ***

****** *****, * ***** *********** ******* *** ********** *********:

  • ****** ********
  • ***/***** *************
  • ***
  • *** ****: *** *****, **** *****, ******* ****

***** *** *** *** **** *************** **** *****. ***** *** over ** ******** **** ************* ***** ********* ********. *******, ***** 11 *** *** '***' **** **** ******* ** ****** ***** camera ********* ********.

Cube *******

**** ******* *** ********* *** ***** ********* ******* ***, ** such, *** ***** ******** ** *********** ** ***** ******** ************. A *** ** **** ******* **** ** ****** ***** ***** $100 *** *** ******** *** ***** $***.

****'* * ****** ** **** * **** ****** ***** ****:

**** *********** **** *******, * ****** ** ********* *********** ****** be **********:

  • ***** ***** ******: ** *** **** ** ****** *** ***** of **** ** * **** ******, *** **** **** ** physically **** *** ****** ** ***********
  • *** ***/*****: ** ** ********* **** *** **** ** **** a ********** *** ******, ******** **** *** ***** / ***** time *******
  • **** ** *******: **** * *** **** ******* **** ********** IR **** ** ******* *** ***** / ***** **** *******
  • *** / ****** ***** ******: ** *** ******* *****, **** cameras ********* **** ******** ** ****** ******** ** ******* **** backlight ** ******** *********
  • **** ** *** *******: **** **** **% ** **** ******* have *** *******
  • ****** ****: **** *** *** ***** *** ******* *** *** those *** **** **** ***** ******* **** *** ***** *********
  • ***** **********: **** **** **% ** **** ******* **** * 1 **** ******** ***** ***** **** ******* ********* **** * or * **** **********

** *** ***** ****, **** **** ******* ***** **** ******** features:

  • ***** **** **** ********** ******** **********; ***** **** ******* ***** only **** ***** *********, ** *** ** ******* ** ********* network *******. **** **** **** ******** ******* ** **** **** common ** **** ******* **** *** ***** **** ******.
  • ****** ***** ****: **** **** **% ** **** ******* ***** 15fps ** ****** ***** ** ********* **** **** ****** *** most ************
  • ******* ********** ***** ** ** ***** **** ***** **** *******.

*******, **** ******* *** ********* ***** ********* * *** ******* (especially ******** ** *** *******). *******, ** ********** *** *********** are ***, ***** ******* *** **** ******.

**'** ****** * ****** ** **** *******. *** ****, ****/***** our ******* *******/*******,*-****,*****,************************ *******.

*** ******* *** **** **** **** ******.

[***************]

Box ** **** *******

**** ** *** ****, ******** ** * ***** ******* ***** down ** * ******** ** *** ** ****. ******, ***** 90% ** ***** ******* **** *** **** *** *** ** dome. ** ******** **** *** ******* *** '**********' **** *******.

** *** ***** ** ******* *** ********* ******* ***** *** and **** **** *******.

*** ***** ***** ******** ** ******** ** *** *********:

***************
Interchangeable ******** **************
Aiming ****************** ** *******
************* **************** *******
Install ********** ************* ********
Cutting **** ***************** ****
Aesthetics / *************************
Vandal *******************
Outdoor ********** ************** *****-**
Integrated ***********

Box *******

*** ******* ******* *********** *** ********** ** * ********** *** price. ***'* ******* *** **** ******* **** ***** ****** *** cameras:

  • *************** ******: ***** **% ** *** ******* ***** ***** ** ****** change ******. **** ** ********* ********** ** *** *** ****** to **** ********* **** ** *** **** (*** **** ******* a ********* ****). ** ********, **** **** **% ** **** cameras ******* *************** ****** *** ***** **** ** ******* **** size *********** ******* ** *** ******* ******** *********.
  • ****** ******: ** *** **** ** *** * ****** ** *** angle ****** **** ******** *****, *** ******* **** ** ** easier *** ******* ******* ***** **** **** *******. **** **** cameras, ******* **** *** ******** ****** * *******, ******** *** be ********** (****** **** ****** ********* ** *** ****** ** the ****).
  • ***** *****:*** ******* ********* **** * ****** *****, *** ****** ***** equal, ******** ** *****. *** ********, *** ******* ***** *** camera ***** ~$***. ** ********, *** ******* ***** **** ****** costs ~$***. **** ******* ********** ** *** ** **** ** the ******* ********** ** *****, **** ************ ********* ****** ********* **** ****-******** *** *******.
  • **** **** ** *******: ******* **** ******* *** ***** ******** ** * ***** mount ** * *******, **** ***** *** ** *** ** quicker *** **** **** *****. ***** ********* ******** **********, ***** can ** **** *********** ** *******.
  • **** ******* **** ********: **** ******** *** ***, **** **** ** ****** ***** in *** ******* ****** **** *****. *** ********, *** ******* resolution ******* ******** ** ** ** ***** ****** **** *****. Also, **** *** ******* **** ***** ** ******** ***** ********* than *****.

***** ** ** ***** ** * ******* *** ******:

***** *****, ***** ***** * ***** ***** ** ********** **** box *******.

Dome *******

***** ***** *** ** ******** **** *********, **** ***** * number ** ******** *******/********** **** *** **** **** *** *******. Included *** ******* ****** ** **** *******:

****** *** **** ******* *** ***** ****** * **** ****** over * *** ******.

  • **********/***********: ***** *** ***** ***** ******* * ******* ** ****, making **** ********** *************. **** *****, **** ***** **** ************* from **** ***** ** *** ***** *****. **** ***** ***** the **** *********/*********** *********.
  • ****** *********: **** **% ** ***** *** ****** ********* ******** ** less **** **% ** *** *******. ** *** *** ********* about ****** ******** **** ******, ****** ********* ** ********. **** though **** *** ****** ** ***** ** ****** ********** ** a ********** ****** *** **** ************. ***** ******** ****** ******* exist (******** *******), ************* ****** ******** ** ** **** ******* ***** ******* achieved.
  • *******: ** *** **** * ****** **** *** ** ******* outdoors ******* ****** * ******** *******, ***** *** **********. **** than **** ** **** ******* *** ******* ***** ***** *** box ******* ***.
  • ********** **: ** *** **** ** ******* *** ***** / ***** time ***********, **** ***** ******** ********** (*****-**) ** ****. **** is * *** **** *** ** ********* ***** ******* **** artificial ******** ** *** *********. ** *** ***** ****, *** distance ********** *** ** ***** (**** **** ** ****** / 60 ****) *** *** ******** ** ** **** ** ***** to *** ****** *** ***** ***** ********.

***'* *** *** **** ****** *********, ******* ******* **** ********** IR *** ****** *** *** **** ****** *** *** **** of ****** *** ******* ** *********** ******.

Bullet *******

****** ******* *** ** **** ******* ** ** * ********** form ** *** ******. ******* ******* *** * *** ********/******** uncommon ** *** *******. ***'* ******* *** ****** ********:

  • **** **% *** **** ** **** *****: **** ***** ******* easier ** ****** ******** ** ***** ** ** **** ** buy *** ******* * ******** *********.
  • **** **% ******* ****/*** *****: **** ***** ******* **** ******** in *** ***** **********.
  • **** **% ** ******* **** ********** ** ************: **** ***** bullets **** **** ***** ** ** ***** *** *** **** to *** ***** ********* (******* ** **** / ** ****** or ****).

***** ** ** ******* ** * ****** *******. ****** **** the ******* ******* *** *** *****-** ** **** ****** *** lens

PTZ *******

**** *********** ****, *** **** ***** ******** **: *** ** fixed ******. *** *** ******* ****** ************* **** ** *** the ******** ** * ****** **** *** *** ******* ****** a **** **** (*.*., * ***)?

** **** * *********** ******* **** ******* *** *** ****** in ********* ****. ** ********* *** **** ***** ***** ****** selecting ****:

*** *******

**** ********* ****, * ******** **** ******** ****** ******* *** performance:

  • ******* ****: ******** ******* **** ** ********* **** *** **** ** see ****** **** *** *** ****. ** ********, ******* ***** range **** ***** ** ** *** (**** * *** **** with ***** *** ****** *****). ***** **'* ********* ******** **** the ****** *** ******* ****, *** ******* *** *** *** 'see', **** ** *** ****** *******. *** ******* **** ******** the ***** ** *****. *** ********, ** * *** *** a *** ******* ****, ** ***** **** ***** ** * 20 ***** ********** ******* *** ******'* ****** *** ********* ***** length (*.*., * ** ** ** **). *******, ******* ****** with * *** ******* **** *** **** * ***** ****** range **** *.* ** ** ** **. ******** *** ***** PTZ *** *** **** **** ******, **** *** **** ** able ** *** '*******'. ** *******, * ****** ******* **** number ***** * ****** **** *** ******* *** *** ******. Secondly, *** ********** ******* ** *** ******* **** *** *** optical **** **** *** **** *** *** *** *** ** far. ******** *** ******* **** *** **** ******* ***** ****** (e.g., *** *** *** *** * ***** - *** ******* - ** *.* ** ** **** *** *** *** *** has * ***** ** *.*** ** *** **), *** *** PTZ *** '***' ***** ** *** (** ****).
  • *** *****: *** ***** ******** *** ******* *** *** *** ** move ************. *** ******* ***** ** *** *******, ******* **** the *** *** **** ************ ************ ** '****' ** *** direction. ***** **% ** **** ******* *** ****** *******. ** you **** ** **** * *** ** *** ****** ** an **** *** ******** ********* ** ***** ********, *** ****** strongly ******** * *** **** *** ******* *******. **** **** cost, ** *******, * *** ******* ******* **** *** **** help ****** **** *** ** *** **** ******** *** ** constraints ** ******* *** ***.
  • **** *****: **** ***** ******** ******** ********** (******* ** *** ****). The '***** ******' *** **** ***** ** *** *******. **** means *** ****** *** **** *** *** *** **** *** side ** *** ***** (*.*., **** ** *** *****, **** all *** *** ****, **** ** *** ****). **** ** important, **** **** **** *** *******, ** **** **** *** can ***** * ******* ****** * ********. *******, **** ***** 30% ** **** *** ** *** ******* ** **** (*** - *** ******* **** ***** ** *** ****** ** 220 *******).*** ************, ***** ******* *** **** ********* - ****** ** pay ~$*** **** *** **** *******.

*** ******* *** **** *********

******* ** *** *** ******** ** ************* ******* *********. *** pricing ****** ************* (** ***) *** *** ** **** **** expensive **** ***** ******* (***** ** **). ***** **** *** an ********* *******, *** ******* ******** ** ***** ******** ******* consideration.

***'* ****** *** ******* *********:

  • ******** ** ***** *** *******, *** ******* *** ***** * times ** *********.*** ********, * ******* *** ****** *** ** ******* **** of ***** $*** ***** * ******* *** ****** *** ** average **** ** ***** $*,***. ****** ***** ********* *** ****, but *** ******* ******* ****/**********, ****** ** *** ** **** than ***** *** ***** *** * *** (**** * ***** camera).**** ** ******** ****** ** ***** ******* ***** *** ********* a **** *** *** ***** ******* *****. ** ****, *** actual ***** ******** *** ****. *******, *** ******* ******* ****/**********, expect ** *** ** ***** * ***** *** ***** *** a *** (**** * ***** ******).
  • **** ***** **** *** ** ***** *****. *** ********, ****** **** **** **** **** $***. *******, *** ******* *** ***** ** ***** *** ******* and *** ******* **** ***** ** ***** ** *******. *** average ******* **** ***** ** *-**. **** ************* ****** ***** and *** *** *** *** *** ****.
  • ******* ********** **** ********* **** ******* ****: ** *******, ***** $*,***. **** ** ********* * *********** ** ****** ****** ******* zooms (************* ********** ****** **** **** ******** **** **** ** see *******).

General ****** *******

***'* ******** **** ********* * ***** ********* ****** *******.

***/*****

** *** **** *** ********* ***** ******** *** ** ****, we ******** ********* *** *** ******* **** ******* '****' ***/***** functionality. **** ** *** ***** ** **** *** ** ****** lighted, ***/***** ******* *** **** * *** **********. ***** ****** vendors ********* **** ******* ************ ** *** *** * *** range, ******* ****** ******* ****** ** *********** ********* **** ** 5 - ** *** (***** ** ********** *****, ** *** bright, *** ***** **********). ** *** **** ** ******, **** a **** ** *** ****** ** ****** ***** ** ***** ******* ****.

**** **** *** ****** * '****' ***/***** *************. **** *** be **** ** ***** * ********** *** ****** (********* ****** an ** *** ******) ** ** ***** **** ****** (*** color, *** ***** & *****).************** ****, *** ********** *** ******* *** *********** *** **** moderately **** ********* **** '***** ****' *******. ********* ******* *** **** **** ** '**********' ***/***** ******. In *** *******, ** '**********' ***/***** ************* *** ***** *** low ***** ************ **** * ********** *** ****** *** *******.

******* *********, ** **** ***** **** ***/***** ************* ** *** most ********* *** *********** ********* ** **** *** ***** ***********.

***

***, ** **** ******* *****, ** ** ********* ************* *** handling ******** ****** ** ****** ***** ****** ******* ***** *** dim ***** **** ******* ******* ** ********.*** ** ********* ******** ** ***(********) **** * ***** ** **** ** *****. *******, ***-*** cameras, ******* **** *** ******* ** ***** ** ***. ** contrast, **** *** ******* **** ****** ** ***+ **. *******, many ******* (**** ******* ****) ** *** **** * ******* rating.*****, ******* ******* *** *** ** *** **** ******** *** real ********* ***. *** ****** *********** * ****** **** ** *** *******.

***** **** *** *** **** * *** ****** **********:

  • **** ** ************* ***** ** ******* ***, *** *****'* ** standard ** ********** ****** ****.
  • '****' *****-******** *** ******* ***** **** **** ***-*** ** ******* WDR ******.
  • **** *** ** **, *** ***** *********** *** ******** ******.

****** ********

*** ***** ** ****** ******* ** ********** ******* ****** - primarily **** ******. ******** ** ************ ** ** ****** *********. **** **** **% ** ***** cameras *** **** ** *****. **** * ******* ** ***** cameras (***, ****, ***.) *** ****** *********.

*** *** ********* **** ****** ********** ** *** **** ** clarity ** ********** ** *** ****** ** **********. * ******** does *****, ******* ****** ******* ****** ******* ***** *******. ***** measurements *** ******** *******, ********* ********** ****** **********. *** ******* ****** ** *** ***** ** **** ***** is ****** ** * *.* ** **** ***** ******* ** a ** ** ********. ****'* * * ****** ***** **** shared **** ** ******* *** **** ** ******:

* ******* ** *** ****** ******* (*.*., ****, ****, *****) have **** ** **** **** ** ***** ******* *** ****. However, ** ****** *** **** ******** ** ************* ******.

****, **** ******* **** ******* ***** ******** ** '******' ********* even ** ** ** ***, ***** ******** **% **** ***** resistance **** ****.

** *** *** ****** ********* ***** ****** **********, *** **** vendors ************ ***** *** ****** *** ******* *********.

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